Getting older is a fact of life. But how and where you do it is not. There are a variety of aging services available to you or your loved one to help them stay at home, meet new people, take part in activities and most important, live an enriching and fulfilling life.
This article covers many of these services. The brief descriptions accompanying each category can help you figure out what's right for you or your loved one. Keep in mind that planning and saving are 2 critical parts of helping an older adult receive the services they need, when they need them, in a place they can call home.
- Home and Community-Based Services: Like most people, you probably want to stay in your home for as long as possible. But you may also need help and support to stay there. That's where Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) can help you. HCBS providers can offer everything from help with the chores to health care services, or even just someone to call and check in on you. Also, if you are taking care of a family member or friend, these services can give you the help and support that you need as well. While there are many different services available, not every community has them. Check with your local area agency on aging for what services are in your area.
- Adult Day Care: Provides a variety of health, social and related support services in a safe setting during the day. Some day care programs are designed especially for people with Alzheimer's disease.
- Care Managers: Helps people figure out what services are needed and what services. Together, managers and their clients come up with a care plan that best fits an individual's lifestyle and arranges the services.
- Congregate Meal Programs: Offer free or low-cost meals in group settings (often in a senior center or senior housing).
- Financial Counseling Programs: Help an individual balance a checkbook, file taxes and pay bills. They also help with Medicaid, Medicare or other insurance forms.
- Friendly Visiting: Provides volunteers who will come to visit and talk in a person's home.
- Home Health Care Services: Includes part-time nursing services, personal care, help with chores, medical supplies or equipment and different kinds of therapies (physical, occupational, and speech) to help a person recover from an illness or surgery.
- Homemaker or Chore Services: Helps with different chores around the house, such as cleaning, preparing meals or doing laundry. They also help with harder tasks such as washing floors, windows and walls and shoveling snow.
- Hospice Care: Provides comfort, nursing care and other services, such as grief counseling, to people who are dying (and their families). Hospice care is provided in your home, in a nursing facility or in a free-standing hospice.
- Home-Delivered Meals: Bring meals in to individuals if they cannot prepare them on their own.
- Information and Assistance Services: Offer information about services and resources in the area.
- Personal Care Services: Provide help with things like bathing and dressing.
- Respite Care: Gives families a break from caring for older people who are unable to care for themselves. Respite care can take place in the older person's or caregiver's home.
- Rehabilitation Services: Offer different kinds of therapies (physical, occupational, and speech) to help a person recover from an illness or surgery.
- Senior Centers: Provide a place where people can come together for social and recreational activities.
- Telephone Reassurance: Provides a daily call and check on someone on a regular basis.
- Transportation Services: Helps people get to and from shopping centers, doctor's appointments, senior centers and other places.
- Senior Housing: You may want to think about senior housing if you want to live on your own, but don't want to have all the chores that go along with having a home. It's also a great option for people who want to live in a community with other seniors.
Depending on the community you choose, you can rent an apartment either at the market rate or if your income level applies, a lower rate. They are often specially designed with things like railings in bathrooms or power outlets higher up on the wall. They may also offer a 24-hour emergency call service if residents need help right away. Some places may also offer different kinds of services to the people who live there like meals, transportation, social activities and other programs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds several rental assistance programs for seniors who qualify. These programs include:
- Public housing, or low-income housing that is owned and operated by a local housing authority. To apply for public housing or Section 8 certificates or vouchers, you must go to your housing authority. Each housing authority has a system for accepting applications. They can tell you what their system is and the steps you will need to take to find an apartment.
- Privately owned subsidized housing includes units where the government provides subsidies directly to owners of qualified properties developed with loans or grants from the Federal government. The owners pass along the federal rental assistance subsidy to qualified residents to cover the gap between the resident payment, generally 30 percent of adjusted income, and rent costs. To apply for housing in a privately-owned affordable housing community, you will have to visit the management office for each community that interests you. You can get a listing of the privately owned subsidized housing sites in your area by contacting your local HUD office.
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities: Continuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs, offer a few types of services - all in one location, which gives a person the chance to stay in one place if even his or her needs change. CCRCs offer a range of services including nursing and other health services; meals; housekeeping; transportation; emergency help; and personal care. They also usually have lots of social and educational activities on site. CCRCs are also different from other types of housing options for older people because they offer you a contract that says the CCRC will provide you with housing and services for life. Most CCRCs require a one-time entrance fee and then monthly payments thereafter. These fees vary by community, depending on the type of housing and services they offer. Other CCRCs operate on a rental basis, in which you would make monthly payments, but would not have to pay an entrance fee.
- Assisted Living: If a person needs some help every day, but not constant nursing care, assisted living may be a good choice. Assisted living residences provide help with the things people need to do every day, such as bathing or getting dressed, taking medicine, cooking, shopping, housekeeping, laundry and getting around. But, they do all of this while still giving a person the chance to stay active and control your own life. Assisted living facilities may be part of a retirement community or nursing home, or they may stand alone. They offer single or double rooms, or sometimes even suites or apartments, depending on a person's needs and how much he or she can afford.
- Nursing Homes: Nursing homes offer round-the-clock care if someone is too sick to live on their own, or if they need to recover after having an illness or operation. Some people stay for a short time in a nursing home and then go home. Other people may be sicker and need more care for longer. Nursing homes are licensed by the state to provide nursing care, personal care and medical services. They also offer different kinds of therapies to help a person recover after an illness or surgery. They provide meals, and do your laundry and housekeeping. Finally, nursing homes offer different kinds of activities like art classes and religious services to help residents socialize and make it a place they can call home.